Yesterday we witnessed the first White House official to resign as a result of a scandal. Now today we learn that the Justice Department has opened its first investigation of Bush assministration malfeasance after being prompted to do so by Democratic congressmen.
The Justice Department plans to investigate accusations from Democratic lawmakers that political interference prompted the department to slash by $120 billion its demands from the tobacco industry as part of a major civil racketeering trial, officials said Monday.
The internal investigation will be run by the Office of Professional Responsibility, which handles accusations of ethical improprieties and wrongdoing by department lawyers.
Several Democrats in Congress requested last week that the inspector general of the Justice Department open an investigation. The requests followed the surprise announcement by department lawyers at the close of a nine-month racketeering trial against the tobacco industry that they would be seeking $10 billion from the cigarette manufacturers to finance a stop-smoking program, rather than the $130 billion suggested by one of the government’s own expert witnesses.